Posted in Baked goods, Baking, breakfast, Brunch, Chocolate, Food, Kids in the Kitchen

Speckled Monkey Bars

Bananas have always been a staple ingredient for lunch bags/boxes in our household. When selecting fruit to add to my weekly shopping list, bananas always take center stage. I often choose far more than needed for a week’s worth of lunches as I love having a few extra over-ripe bananas to add to tasty quick bread and snack recipes, such as this one. These delicious bars have few ingredients and highlight some of my family’s favorite flavors. My three (not so) little monkeys have enjoyed these flavors for many years.

Speckled Money Bars

4 medium (over-ripe) bananas, mashed

2 cup old fashioned oats

1/2 cup chunky peanut butter

1 teaspoon vanilla

1/2 cup chocolate chips

1/2 cup walnuts, chopped

Preheat oven to 350 degrees and grease a 13×9” baking pan.

Mix bananas with oats and peanut butter; add vanilla and continue to mix until well blended. Carefully, spread the mixture in prepared pan making sure to evenly distribute to the corners. Top with chocolate chips and walnuts. Bake for 18-20 minutes or until an inserted toothpick comes out clean. Cool before cutting into delicious squares. Wrap individually for a lunch bag treat or store in an airtight container.

Note: Lately, I’ve been using the Copper Chef brownie pan to make perfect portions while baking. Depending on your oven, you may have to reduce cooking time when using this pan. Cool completely before removing insert.

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Posted in Baked goods, Baking, Chocolate, Desserts, Gifts

Toffee and Coffee Brownies



This is one of my family’s favorite brownie recipes.  When my twins were headed back to Purdue after a short fall break, I decided to send along a special “study” treat.  The addition of coffee and chocolate in the recipe are sure to inject a bit of a caffeine boost needed for long study and homework sessions.  

Due to the use of a traditional boxed brownie mix, these chocolatey treats come together quickly.  Adding three eggs to the batter makes for a moist and chewy texture, while the toffee bits contribute to the sweet and crunchy topping for this dessert.  I guarantee these treats won’t last long after you cool and frost them!  They are super rich and delicious! 

By the way, finals week for college students isn’t far off…  Wouldn’t every student love to receive a batch of these gems in a care package? Simply bake the brownies, then cool and wrap.  Next, place a jar of pre-made frosting and a bag of toffee bits into a shipping box along with the brownies.  Your student can frost and sprinkle the toffee mixture over the batch after the package has arrived. Don’t forget to encourage your student to share with friends and floor mates.   Oh, yah… You’ll be one popular parent!

Toffee and Coffee Brownies

1 package brownie mix for 13 X 9″ pan

3 eggs, slightly beaten

1/4 cup brewed coffee

1 stick (1/2 cup) melted butter, slightly cooled

1 teaspoon vanilla extract 

1 cup milk chocolate chips, optional

For Topping

1 16 ounce container of rich and creamy pre-made milk chocolate frosting

2 cups Heath Toffee Bits

Preheat oven to 350 degrees.  Grease a 9 x 13″ pan with non-stick baking spray and set aside. 

In a large bowl, combine brownie mix with eggs, coffee, butter, and extract.  Stir in optional chocolate chips.  Continue to stir until thoroughly combined, about 50 strokes. Evenly pour and spread brownie batter into prepared pan.  Bake according to package directions, usually 20 – 28 minutes. 

Allow to cool completely.  Spread a thick layer of pre-made milk chocolate frosting over brownies; sprinkle liberally with Heath Toffee Bits. Serve and store in an air-tight container.

Posted in Baked goods, Baking, Cake, Chocolate, Desserts, Food

Quick Fix Brownies



We spent a beautiful day in Chicago on my brother’s boat yesterday. I volunteered to bring along some munchies so I turned to my favorite brownie recipe to add to the collection of appetizers and desserts.  These brownies hold up well when traveling and they slice into dense dark chocolatey squares, perfect for a family outing.  A regular cake mix is used for the brownie base.  This is a quick and easy recipe that is sure to please all of the chocolate lovers in your life!

Quick Fix Brownies

1 (18 1/4 oz) devil’s food or dark chocolate cake mix

1/2 cup butter or margarine, melted

1/3 cup brown sugar 

1/4 cup water

2 large eggs

1 teaspoon vanilla

3/4 cup chocolate chips

3/4 cup chopped walnuts, optional

Preheat oven to 375 degrees.  Set the oven rack to the second-lowest position.  Spray with cooking spray a 13×9″ baking pan.  In a large bowl mix all ingredients except chocolate chips (and walnuts) until smooth.  The batter will be quite thick.  Add chocolate chips and walnuts, if desired; mix to combine. Spread batter evenly into the prepared baking pan.  Bake for about 25-30 minutes (do not over bake).   Cool completely before frosting with a frosting of your choice.

Posted in Cake, Chocolate, Desserts, Food, holiday, No-Bake

Oreo Ice Cream Cake

  
This weekend, we had the pleasure of visiting my sister and her family for the July 4th holiday. One of the activities that we enjoy most is remaking recipes that have become a tradition in our family. This no-bake cake is a winner. The July 4th weather is usually warm and breezy so the ice cream cake is a refreshing treat after a long day of grilling, baseball, and fireworks. Just pop the finished cake into the freezer at the start of the day and it will be waiting for you when you want to sit down and enjoy time with family and friends. What a great, no fuss, dessert!

Oreo Ice Cream Cake

1 package (20 oz.) Oreo cookies

1/4 cup margarine, melted

1 1/2 gallon vanilla ice cream, slightly softened

1 package (8 oz.) Cool Whip (thawed)

1 jar (16 oz.) hershey’s hot fudge or chocolate syrup

1/2 cup chopped nuts

1/2 cup mini Reese’s peanut butter cups or your favorite chocolate candy, optional

Lightly spray, with cooking spray, a 9×13″ pan. Crush cookies in the food processor or put them in a plastic bag and crush them with a rolling pin. Add melted butter and mix thoroughly. Press evenly into the bottom of the pan. Carefully spread the softened ice cream over the cookies. Evenly layer on the Cool Whip. Warm the fudge or chocolate until pourable in the microwave and drizzle over the Cool Whip. Sprinkle nuts over the entire cake. (Add the mini candies, optional.) Freeze for at least two hours or until firm. Enjoy!

Posted in Baked goods, Baking, Cake, Chocolate, cookies, Desserts, Food

Devilishly Delicious Brownies

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I must admit, I often use a boxed mix when baking brownies. While it seems relatively easy to open a box and pop in a few ingredients, the result is never quite as delicious as the “made from scratch” product. This brownie recipe is quite easy as it combines a few simple ingredients and is truly delicious. The four, lightly beaten eggs help create a cake-like texture with a moist, fudgy interior. The chocolate chips are a wonderful (partially melted) surprise. So, if you’re looking for a quick fix as you move through the stressful holiday season, this recipe just might fit the bill. I must caution you though, these babies are devilishly delicious!

Devilishly Delicious Brownies

1 cup butter, melted
2 1/2 cups sugar
1 tablespoon vanilla extract
4 eggs, lightly beaten
1 1/2 cups flour
1 cup unsweetened cocoa powder
1 teaspoon salt
1 cup semisweet chocolate chips

Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Lightly coat a 13X9″ baking pan with non-stick cooking spray. Combine butter, sugar, and vanilla in a large bowl. Add eggs and mix well. In a medium bowl, sift flour, cocoa powder, and salt together. Combine flour mixture and the egg mixture; mix just until batter is combined. Stir in chocolate morsels. Spread the batter evenly into the prepared baking dish. Bake until inserted toothpick comes out clean, 35 to 40 minutes. Cool completely before cutting. Lightly sprinkle with powdered sugar, if desired.

Posted in Baked goods, Baking, Chocolate, Desserts

Crazy Delicious Chocolate Pudding Poke Cake

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We celebrated J’s birthday with this wonderfully delicious Chocolate Pudding Poke Cake. After the birthday boy blew out the candles, the cake received rave reviews from the birthday crowd. This rich, chocolatey cake served along with a few scoops of vanilla ice cream makes for a delicious birthday treat. With just a few convenient ingredients, this outstanding dessert can be assembled in no time at all. It will disappear quite quickly so be sure to keep the basic ingredients on hand for another round of deliciousness!

Crazy Delicious Chocolate Pudding Poke Cake

1 box Devil’s Food Chocolate cake mix
(Water, vegetable oil and eggs called for on cake mix box)
1 box milk chocolate instant pudding and pie filling mix (4 serving size)
2 cups cold milk

Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Spray with cooking spray, a 13×9″pan. Mix and bake cake according to package directions; cool completely. With the handle of a wooden spoon, poke holes in the cake every 1/2″. In a medium bowl, beat instant pudding mix and cold milk with a whisk as directed on package. Pour pudding evenly over cake. Run knife around sides of pan to loosen cake. Refrigerate about 2 hours or until chilled. Store covered in the refrigerator until ready to serve.

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Posted in Baked goods, Baking, Chocolate, Desserts

Chocolatey Angel Food Cake

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With busy weekend activities, sporting events, and altered work schedules out of the way, we were finally able to celebrate Valentine’s Day on Sunday. The suggestion of a nice dinner at a favorite restaurant was a welcome treat. While dinner was taken care of by the restaurant staff, we decided to choose a movie and gather at home to share a homemade chocolatey dessert.
This is a great last minute recipe as there are only three ingredients involved. Water, cake mix and premium cocoa. That’s it. The light airy texture of the angel food cake, mixed with the rich chocolate flavor of the cocoa make for a delicious valentine treat. A few scoops of French vanilla ice cream and a scattering of berries make this dessert a bit more decadent. What a wonderful way to spend a quiet evening with the family!

Chocolatey Angel Food Cake

1 pkg. (14.5 to 16 oz.) angel food cake mix
1/2 cup premium baking cocoa
powdered sugar (optional)
Fresh berries (optional)

Preheat the oven according to cake mix package directions. In a large bowl, carefully combine cocoa with angel food cake mix. Prepare and bake the cake mix according to package directions. Finish cake by drizzling with icing or sprinkling with powdered sugar; garnish with berries.

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Posted in Baked goods, Chocolate, Food, Kids in the Kitchen

Dump It In Brownies

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Many years ago, while looking through a magazine at one of our regularly scheduled well visits for the kids, I stumbled upon this recipe for brownies. I was amazed by the simplicity involved in making this rich, chocolatey treat.
The first time I used the recipe, I had three small children in tow. All of them sporting hand-made aprons and propped up on stools to assist with the baking project. I had pre-measured all of the ingredients and had things lined up so that the kids could pour everything into the bowl before mixing. I kept saying, “Go ahead, guys…just dump it in!” Well, the look on their faces was priceless! Mom is actually letting us just dump this stuff in? I’m usually quite methodical when baking so my carefree attitude was really messing with their minds.
Weeks later, K asked if we could bake again. She asked if we could make the “dump it in” recipe. Well, the name stuck and that’s what we called these moist, delicious brownies ever since. I’ve changed up the recipe a bit but it certainly is a moist flavorful treat, that’s fun to make with the kiddos.

Dump It In Brownies

2 cups sugar
5 eggs, beaten
1 cup canola oil
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
1 1/3 cups all-purpose flour
1/2 cup unsweetened cocoa powder
1 teaspoon salt
1 cup semisweet chocolate chips
1 cup peanut butter chips

Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Spray with cooking spray, a 9×13 inch baking pan.
In a large bowl, dump in all ingredients. Combine well, stirring just until moistened. Spread the batter evenly into prepared pan. Bake for 30 to 35 minutes in preheated oven, or until brownies start to pull away from the sides of the pan. Cool completely before icing. Sprinkle extra chips over chocolate frosting of your choice.

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Posted in Baked goods, Baking, Chocolate, Desserts, Food, Gifts, Homemade Mixes, Kids in the Kitchen, lunch box

Scrumptious 1,2,3 Cake

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This little cake is so light and sweet it’s like eating chocolate cotton candy!
It’s called the (1) One – (2) Two – (3) Three Cake and it’s really delicious. You won’t believe that there are only two ingredients involved here!

This past Christmas, my daughter arrived home from college for her holiday break. Her suitcase was filled with lots of dirty clothes, books to sell after a long semester, and a beautiful jar filled with a taupe colored, powdery mix; a recipe card attached. The jar was wrapped in a ball of crinkled holiday, tissue paper. In the rush of unpacking and catching up, the jar was put aside. A few hours later, I noticed the jar on the kitchen counter. The container was quite beautiful and I was intrigued by the contents so I carefully read the attached index card.

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Well, I couldn’t resist the temptation. I quickly scooped out 3 tablespoons of the mix and added 2 tablespoons of water. I swirled it around in a heat-safe mug and popped it in the microwave. As I looked through the viewing glass, the mix immediately began to rise and puff up. It was like magic, the speed at which it rose. I patiently waited the full minute as the kitchen began to smell like a baker’s wonderland. When the bell went off, I retrieved my creation and quickly ran to tell everyone what had transpired. We all grabbed a spoon and tested the sweet chocolatey mound. Ohhhh, it was so delicious! Now, I really try to stay away from sugar so I took the tiniest of bites but I was delighted that it turned out so spectacular. And, oh, it was so simple!

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So here’s what you do…

(1) One – (2)Two – (3) Three Cake

1 package chocolate cake mix
1 package angel food cake mix

In a large bowl, combine dry cake mix packages; mix well. Carefully pour into an airtight container.

Attach an index card to the jar with baking instructions:

Mix, in a microwave safe cup, 3 tablespoons mix with 2 tablespoons water. Pop it in the microwave for 1 minute. 3,2,1… Enjoy!

Don’t limit yourself… Use any flavor cake mix you like. Add chocolate chips or top with whipped topping and fruit. This would be a great recipe to make with young children. I think you’ll really enjoy this…what fun!

Posted in appetizers/snacks, Baked goods, Baking, Chocolate, Desserts, Food, Gifts, holidays, lunch box

Mini Brownie Bites

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It’s that time of year…holiday parties, friendly gift giving, festive decorations and enjoying time with family. One of our favorite ways to spend time together seems to revolve around preparing and sharing cherished family recipes.
We have a few favorite cookie and quick bread recipes that we always bake when the holidays roll around…some are time consuming recipes while others can be whipped up in a jiffy.
This recipe for Mini Brownie Bites is a quickie. These flavorful gems are a mouthful of rich, chocolatey goodness and they only take minutes to prepare. Be warned that the recipe yields only a dozen or so bites. You can bake them along with your favorite cookie selection to be added to the holiday dessert tray. I often pack them in colorful tins to give as teacher gifts. They travel well and seem to get more moist and delicious a day or two after baking. Be sure to store them in an air-tight container until just before serving.

Mini Brownie Bites

1/2 cup semisweet chocolate chips, divided
1/4 cup butter, cubed
1 egg
1/4 cup sugar
1/4 teaspoon vanilla extract
1/4 cup flour
1/4 cup chopped walnuts, optional

In a microwave, melt 1/4 cup of chocolate chips and butter; stir until smooth.
Cool slightly. In a small bowl, beat egg and sugar. Stir in vanilla and chocolate mixture. Gradually add flour; fold in remaining chocolate chips and optional walnuts.
Use a small ice cream scoop to fill mini paper or silicone-lined muffin cups two-thirds full. Bake at 350 degrees for 8-12 minutes (depending on how dry or moist you prefer the brownie center) or until tops begin to crack. Cool completely before removing from pan to a wire rack.